iPhone Apps: Roll your Own ?
Dan Romanchik KB6NU
cwgeek at kb6nu.com
Tue Mar 9 13:31:32 CST 2010
Here's something from another list that I'm on that's appropriate for this discussion:
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Subject: [a2b3] EFF uses FoIA to get Apple Developer Agreement
Date: March 9, 2010 Mar 9 - 2:06PM EST
Interesting read, if you're into that sort of thing (which I am)...
Basically, when people at the EFF saw that NASA had an iPhone app, they submitted a FoIA request to get a copy of the agreement.
Link to story:
"No matter what, Apple will never be liable to any developer for more than $50 in damages"
"Apple can remotely disable apps, even after they have been installed by users."
"if you use the SDK and your app is rejected by Apple, you're prohibited from distributing it through competing app stores"
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This kind of makes me want to forego developing anything for the iPhone, just on general principles.
CW Geek, Ham Radio Instructor
Station Manager, WA2HOM at the Hands-On Museum (www.wa2hom.org)
Read my ham radio blog at http://www.kb6nu.com
On Mar 9, 2010, at Mar 9,11:57 AM, wb4jfi wrote:
> Unless something has changed, creating the app was not the big issue. I downloaded their dev environment a year ago, and it seemed OK. But, they require that all app distro be through iTunes and the iStore. It costs $200 to sign up for that, per person/organization. And, you can't even try your app on a real iphone until you go through that. You can possibly piggyback with another willing organization, but good luck finding one.
> I like my iPhone, but I gave up the idea of creating anything for it. Apple and their closed system/minds....
> Andre Kesteloot wrote:
>> *Easy-To-Make iPhone Apps*
>> Dan Woods, 03.09.10, 6:00 AM ET
>> If you ever had an idea for an iPhone app but did not really have a clue about how you would get it working, your time has come. A new generation of simplified iPhone app development environments are about to reduce the technical skill required and promise to add fuel to the already explosive growth in the number of apps.
>> The current road to an iPhone app leads through Apple's iPhone Software Development Kit, which is a collection of software, sample programs and educational material that provide the tools that are needed to create an app. IPhone app programming is based on a language called Objective C, which is a powerful language but one that requires a programming background to master. Most people who can create an HTML page without too much trouble wouldn't know where to begin to create an Objective C program.
>> The new iPhone app developer toolkits vary widely in power and approach, and frankly, will lead to a lot of useless apps, something there is no shortage of now. But they will also unlock user-driven innovation on a massive scale, and this will no doubt lead to many success stories. Here's the lay of the land on how these new toolkits work and what they can do for you.
>> First of all, it is important to separate the toolkits by their approach to creating iPhone apps. The two broad categories are template-based systems and those that provide simplified building blocks.
>> The template-based systems reduce the process of creating an iPhone app to a fill-in-the-blank process. To create an app, you choose a template that provides the basic structure and functions of the app. You then add assets such as graphics or sound files or links to the template, press a button and out pops a working app. Examples of such environments include Mobile Roadie, aimed at bands that want apps and AppBreeder, which has a number of different templates. Larger systems for content management like Kyte now offer ways of automatically producing apps as well.
>> The advantage of template app development environments is that they significantly lower the barrier to creating an app. You don't have to hire a development firm to write Objective C for you. If you can manage to get graphics in the right form, you can get an app that looks quite good. The problem is that such an approach offers limited flexibility. If you want what is in a template, great. But if you want to adjust things in a way that was not anticipated, you are out of luck.
>> The building block approach is much more powerful, but demands a bit more thinking and understanding on the part of the developer. The building block approach provides the developer with a blank canvas. You then choose from a set of building blocks and place them on the canvas. The building blocks can be configured by filling in the blanks for certain types of assets and through configuration parameters. But the number of building blocks on the page, their size and how they interact is far more flexible than the template approach. Anyone who has done Visual Basic programming will find the building block approach familiar. But you must understand the building blocks (title of a page, map, buttons, lists, etc.) and how they interact, which is somewhat more difficult than filling in a template.
>> EachScape is the pioneer in the building block approach. EachScape was cofounded by Ludo Collin, cofounder of StarCut, a mobile Web site development house, and Bob Fitterman, the former CTO of Vindigo, a mobile local search service that was way ahead of its time. Other companies pursuing the building block approach may be out there, but I haven't been able to find them.
>> "Template-driven solutions tend to produce apps that all look the same and have limited capabilities," said Fitterman, who is now CTO of EachScape. "EachScape lets nonprogrammers create smart phone apps with all the hallmarks of a custom program: advanced user interactions, local data storage and even the ability to incorporate custom UI elements. Our apps each look unique because they aren't confined to what the template lets you do." For a look at an app created by EachScape check out /TimeOut Magazine's/ Guide to New York City <http://itunes.apple.com/app/time-out-new-york/id342731404?mt=8&tduid=87cb0a12044b7c0419315a8e1deb6566&affId=1503186>.
>> But Fitterman acknowledges that templates provide such an easy way to get started that he is going to incorporate templates constructed out of building blocks into EachScape. Once users have some experience with templates, they may be able to handle building blocks.
>> Which choice is right for you? If there is a template-based environment out there that does exactly what you want, then go for it. It will be the simplest path to creating an app. But if you want to do something unique or are a digital agency that is going to create a lot of apps, the building block approach is probably better.
>> One major advantage of using these simplified environments is that some of them will not only create an iPhone App but also create apps that could run on Android or Palm or other platforms and devices. Fitterman says EachScape has its Android version up and running based on the same building blocks that are used to develop iPhone apps.
>> So the next time an idea for an iPhone app pops into your head, don't just let it sit there. Bring it to life.
>> /Dan Woods is chief technology officer and editor of Evolved Technologist, a research firm focused on the needs of CTOs and chief information officers. He consults for many of the companies he writes about. For more information, go to evolvedtechnologist.com <http://www.evolvedtechnologist.com/>/.
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